Productivity Practices for School Counselors

As a counselor your day is ever-evolving and full of surprises. This is one of the best parts about the job right? The unpredictability sure isn't boring! However it can make creating a daily schedule pretty tricky! I've developed these easy to implement strategies to make each day organized and efficient.

Design your Daily Schedule

Start with these two steps when it comes to establishing a system for designing your day.

Step 1: Conduct a School Counseling Time Audit

Before you can determine how to divide your daily time, you must know what you are currently spending your time on. To do this you can use a time audit. A time audit is when you break down your day minute by minute to see exactly what you spend your time on. And I mean everything; how long your groups are, how much time you spend scrolling social media or refreshing your email, and even how long you take to eat lunch!

How to Conduct a School Counseling Time Audit

Keep it Simple: Use a clock and a good ol' pen and paper - you can simply write down your tasks as you are doing them.

Use an Online Tracker: Use an online tracker like Toggl or RescueTime to precisely track how many minutes you spend on each online task.

Prioritize your Tasks

After eliminating or limiting time wasters, you need to schedule everything else. To determine how to schedule what's left, think of your priorities.

Break down your daily tasks into three categories:

  1. Things you enjoy doing but aren't a top priority

  2. Things you enjoy doing that are a top priority (This is the sweet spot!)

  3. Things you do not enjoy doing but they are a top priority

Step 2: Start Batching

Batching is when you group similar tasks together to increase efficiency! Start by batching email. This is a must-do, but it doesn't have to dominate your schedule and leave you feeling like your brain has too many tabs open. For example, When you were doing your time audit you may have noticed that you do some tasks over and over again throughout the day. (Ex: checking email) Instead of going to your inbox multiple times a day, you could batch your email by only sending and responding to emails at designated times in the day.

You may feel like you are being unresponsive or rude to not immediately return emails, and it may appear this way if you are not clear about your email expectations. Set a boundary of when you check your emails with your colleagues and with parents, but be sure you are communicating this information clearly.

Create a Weekly Counseling Log

Once you have established your daily schedule, you need to start documenting what you are actually doing! You likely have been taking some notes of who you are seeing and what you are covering with them, but having it all in an organized fashion will make your counseling life so much easier! I developed a digital counseling log spreadsheet to keep track of services provided. Download my spreadsheet template here.

Typing in your notes after each session to your counseling log is the most efficient way to document services provided. The information is fresh and you never get behind.

But I know you are busy and sometimes you may not have time to type in your notes. Here are 3 other tools you can use.

3 Ways School Counselors can Document the Services they've Provided:

  1. Use handwritten notes

  2. Record a voice memo

  3. Create a sign-in sheet using Google Forms (This is perfect for drop-in students!)

Make Your To-do List Digital

Who doesn't love the high of checking off a to-do list? I'll admit it, I've even written down a task I've already accomplished on my to-do list just so I can cross it off! When it comes to keeping track of your tasks, digital apps are your friends! They are way better than a clipboard when it comes to creating and managing your to-do list.

3 Apps School Counselors can use for Digital To-do Lists

  1. Trello - best for project management and collaboration

  2. Todoist or Due - best for recurring tasks

  3. Notes - best for ease and cross-device use

When it comes to your daily schedule, counseling log, and to-do lists, I hope you find these strategies helpful. The less time you spend on the minutiae of daily tasks, the more time you can spend in direct student services. Afterall, that's why you're a school counselor in the first place!
If you found this post helpful I know you'll absolutely love my Stress Free School Counseling course. It is full of strategies just like this to help you maximize your productivity so you can increase your impact and advocate for your role. Check it out here.

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